Cylinder Sleeving

Here at Flat 6 Innovations the ONLY cylinder program that we recognize are genuine "Nickies" from LN Engineering. Raby Engine Development and LN Engineering began working together in 1999 to create these awesome cylinders and to date we have used more than anyone in the world. As developmental partners in the technology behind the product we know more about the most effective way to apply "Nickies" than any other company in the world.

Please do not ask us to utilize any lesser cylinder technology in any engine that we may be providing to you as all Flat 6 Innovations engines receive Nickies and there are no exceptions. Everything is is just a compromised, knock off.

Nickies™ for Boxster, Cayman, & 911 models
for MY1997-2008 Porsche Boxster, Cayman, and 911 models

The M96 engine is but the latest engine in a long history of both air and water-cooled engines offered in various Porsche models delivering excellent performance at a reasonable price. Just as with engines before it, there have always been little "hiccups" along the way. Even the venerable air-cooled flat-6 had its share of problems leading to fixes implemented as they were developed, from the ever popular Carrera tensioners to the cylinder head leak fixes required of early 964 engines. Once "updated", these engines have proven themselves to have excellent service lives, with many going hundreds of thousands of miles, as is normal with 3.0SC engines with their exceptional reputation for being bulletproof.

Now that the first of many of the new water-cooled Boxster and 911 models featuring the M96 engine are approaching or already are ten years old, many fear impending cylinder or IMS failures as they learn of the weaknesses of the M96 engine. These are no different than some of the problems experienced with any of the air or water-cooled engines pre-dating the M96 engine.

The best advice we have is don't let your Porsche sit - drive it and enjoy it, as Porsche intended.

If it is of any consolation, many who track their cars have yet to experience failures, hinting that cars that are driven often and hard, but well maintained have less problems! The single most important precaution you can do is change your oil often, at least every 3-5,000 mi, and ensure your cooling and oiling system is well maintained and upgraded to handle the extra heat and abuse of track use. LN Engineering offers many products designed to extend the life of your engine from our low temperature thermostat to IMS Retrofits, so there IS hope that you won't have to suffer a catastrophic failure.

That said, if and when you experience a failure, be assured there are solutions to these problems as well as support for even the do-it-yourselfer. So don't fear, you and your Porsche can have a long and happy life together.

2.5 Boxster mod., with Nickies™ installed, stock 85.5mm bore size. As you can see, the wall thickness is significantly more than a stock cylinder and bores feature our NSC plating which is similar to Nikasil™, as used on the Carrera GT, GT2, GT3, and 911 Turbo engines!


Nickies™ make the difference!

Nickies™ feature our superior aluminum alloy up to 66% stronger than than the cast in Lokasil™ bores or MMC sleeves, improved thermal conductivity (unlike steel sleeves), reduced wear and friction, and allow for larger bores without any loss of strength or longevity. In fact, Our NSC-plated, CNC billet, solid aluminum Nickies™come with a lifetime warranty on cylinder plating.

We have overcome the d-chunk and slipped-sleeve problems associated with Porsche 986 & 996 models by engineering an aluminum alloy that has both high ductility AND strength, allowing for larger bore sizes while still increasing reliability, addressing the well known issue of cracked bores in stock engines.


3.4 996, Classic D-Chunk Failure


another 3.4 996, Classic D-Chunk Failure


2.5 986 model, Classic D-Chunk Failure coupled with MMC cast-in liner from 99-00MY



Close-up of a typical cylinder scoring as found in 3.4 and especially in later 3.6 and 3.8 models.


In either situation, we can upgrade your engine to use our Nickies™ as long as there are no cracks in the case that protrude deeper than the bottom of the water jacket, where in that case, the integrity of the whole crankcase has been compromised! (see below). If the damage on the crankcase side, the damage is not repairable.


As you can see below, we machine out almost all of the factory cylinder and leave just a portion of the retaining support structure that was cast in to the case. This allows us to properly support the cylinder while increasing wall thickness of the cylinder up in the water jacket allowing for larger bores, thanks to the thermal and strength properties of our unique alloy.



Photo of a block prepped for installation of Nickies™, as shown from the rear side (non water-jacketed portion of cylinder). Note that we have left the factory webbing that helps to support the cylinder in the case. Our sleeves positively are indexed in the opening such that they are as well supported as the factory cylinder and strengthened further by our special alloy!


Our conversion does not impede or restrict the flow of water around the cylinders and due to the high ductility and tensile strength of our alloy, a closed deck is not required. Our unique design retains the proper flow of water through the water jacket and actually improves upon the cooling capabilities of the engine due to over double the thermal conductivity of the alloy used.


Why choose Nickies over re-ringing a stock engine or replacing with an original replacement case?

Upon inspection of many high mileage or over-heated engines, the stock engine bores tend to be out of specification, with .002-.006" of ovality, leading to excessive piston clearances, increased ring land and ring wear, and high oil consumption. In addition, a replacement ring set from Porsche for some engines can cost almost as much as a new set of JE Pistons which already include new rings, pins, and clips.

Likewise, replacement case halves can cost more than what we charge for upgrading your existing block and our new JE Pistons. In addition, we can provide sizable displacement increases over what a stock engine can offer. Current pricing from Porsche for a crankcase varies from $5000-6000 list for all model years of the M96 engine! Porsche now even charge a core charge in excess of $15000 for most engines!

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Why can't I install oversize pistons?

There are no oversize pistons available from the factory that are compatible with the lokasil bores. As such, boring out the stock block and fitting it with new pistons is a recipe for disaster. As done by one of our customers, it lasted only about 1000 miles before the engine ate itself up.



Even applying Nikasil to the stock bores isn't practical, as the blocks suffer so many inherent cylinder problems that you could not guarantee a later cylinder failure. It's just not worth the risk considering the expense!

Why should I use LN Engineering Nickies instead of cheaper steel sleeves?

There are many companies who offer steel sleeving of M96 and M97 blocks, with mixed results. Due to weaknesses of the parent block material, thermal expansion differences, and just the fact that steel liners are not as ductile, it's no surprise we see blocks like this one come into our shop requiring that the engines be rebuilt a second time after the first shop did lackluster work.

Why rebuild rather than replace with a new or remanufactured factory engine?

For pricing similar to a new factory engine, you can have your existing engine rebuilt and upgraded with increased displacement (more HP and torque) with our fixes for all the major problem areas including cylinder, billet chain tensioner paddle, billet chromoly oil pump drive, and intermediate shaft failures. Also, while it's apart, upgrades like our billet rods or even stock rods with ARP rod bolts and ARP crankshaft carrier bolts can be installed to further "bulletproof" the M96/M97 engine, especially if you plan on taking the car to the track. For this same price or less, you get a stronger, more reliable engine and a free upgrade in displacement to further improve your driving experience.

Why do you not do blocks on an exchange basis?

There are many reasons we no longer offer blocks on an exchange basis, but it boils down to the fact that many blocks can suffer porosity or even worse, have RMS issues. Maintaining a case married to its crankshaft cradle ensures that an engine without RMS issues stays that way. Although this increases turn-around time, our policy ensures the best final outcome for your rebuild.

If an engine's block is damaged beyond repair, we can source cores and also their matching crankshaft cradles, if so desired. If an engine is being rebuilt for a reason such as intermix, be sure to have identified the source of the intermix as not being from the case - we do not pressure test case halves or inspect for hidden damage. Our reworking of the sleeves is the limit to which we recondition the case halves.

Why do you not offer larger bore sizes?

Having now done 300+ engines without a single failure, we're proud of our proven track record. The bore sizes we have chosen are conservative choices made to ensure continued success. We can make larger bore sizes special order for a nominal fee, but we require the customer to sign-off on and assume any and all liability.

We supply both stock bore sizes and big bore kits and to date offer 2.5 to 2.7, 2.7 to 2.9, 3.2 to a 3.6, 3.4 to 3.6, 3.6 to 3.8, and 3.8 to 4.0 kits including Nickies and custom forged JE Pistons. No use to stay stock, here we give you a minimum of 25 more HP through our big bore improvements and the best part comes from the fact that it costs exactly the same as a stock bore size!

Jake Raby